May Revise: Future Cuts Will Disproportionately Impact Education, Children, and Seniors

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sacramento-state-capitolLocal official are bracing for the May revise to the state’s budget.  The Governor was able to close a portion of the more than twenty-five billion dollar deficit through an initial round of cuts.  However, his plan was to extend the tax increases to deal with most of the remainder of the budget deficit.

Politics have derailed this effort and it appears increasingly likely that the budget gap will be closed through an all-cuts budget, despite a strong majority of the public who prefer the opportunity to at least vote on the Governor’s tax extension package.

The economy remains weak, despite the fact that the state has increased employment by over 200,000 between September and March.

However, according to analysis by the non-partisan California Budget Project, “these increases have not been enough to bring down the state’s jobless rate, which was still the second highest in the nation at 12.0 percent in March. In the same month, 2.2 million Californians were still unemployed, nearly half of whom had been searching for work for at least six months.”

A recent report from the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office continues to see unemployment at least at 11% for the foreseeable future.

The California Budget Project (CBP) argues that one reason for the slow recovery in the California’s job market has been state budget cuts, which they argue have cost tens of thousands of jobs.

In 2010, local government employment – particularly teachers, firefighters and police – declined by 3.6% or 61,700 in 2010.  Much of that was due to layoffs for teachers at public schools.

Writes the CBP, “In fact, local government job  losses were larger than those of any other major sector in 2010. Without these losses, California would have gained nearly twice as many jobs last year.”

They argue that an “all-cuts” budget “would threaten the economic recovery in the short-term and compromise the state’s competitiveness in the long-term.”

They continue, “Deeper cuts would inevitably lead to additional public sector losses at a critical time when the labor market is slowly improving.  These job losses would threaten California’s tenuous recovery.”

“California is at a crossroads; a balanced approach that couples recently enacted spending cuts with additional revenues is the only way to preserve the public structures essential to California’s prosperity,” the CBP reports.

We know an all-cuts budget means about a six million dollar deficit for Davis schools.  Half of that would be mitigated by Measure A, but the rest would come out of employees, particularly teachers.

Davis is, of course, hardly alone in that area, but that does not represent much comfort.

Aside from education, one of the areas most impacted are cuts to CalWORKS and the Supplemental Security Income/State Supplemental Payment.

Writes the CBP, “The cumulative impact of cuts made to CalWORKs and SSI/SSP  amounts to more than $8 billion between 2008-09 and 2011-12. The reduction to CalWORKs during this period – $3.5 billion – is equivalent to a loss of roughly $3,100 for each of the 1.1 million children in the program, while the cut to SSI/SSP – $4.6 billion – equates to a loss of about $3,600 for each of the nearly 1.3 million seniors and people with disabilities who receive cash assistance.”

State lawmakers have now merely suspended cost-of-living adjustments for cash assistance.  COLAs allow the benefits to increase at a rate that keeps pace with inflation.

But the cuts go further than this “by making deep grant cuts and reversing longstanding policies, including those designed to protect children and help parents successfully move into the workforce. “

One cut, reports the CBP, was “The Legislature cut the maximum monthly CalWORKs grant for a family of three in high-cost counties from $723 in 2007-08 to $638 in 2011-12, an $85-per-month reduction.”

Moreover, “The Legislature also cut CalWORKs grants by up to an additional 15 percent for many families who receive “child-only”  cash assistance, including families in which a parent has “timed off” aid, but the children continue to receive subsistence payments.”

They write, “The loss of funds due to these and other CalWORKs cuts will disproportionately affect California’s high-cost – mainly coastal – counties, including Los Angeles, Orange, and San Francisco, because that’s where more than half (55.4 percent) of CalWORKs families live.”

While it is true that everyone is hurting, it seems that those most impacted by cuts are the most vulnerable in society, students in public education, impoverished children and the elderly.

In the meantime, the state is still crippled under a system that does not allow the majority to govern the state.

In frustration, as George Skelton reports, “Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) is hurling a few brushback pitches at Republicans  and business interests, trying to get them thinking about the consequences of not extending the state tax increases that were passed two years ago.”

Mr. Skelton reports that the Senator is telling them that if they do not like state tax hikes, they will allow local government to raise taxes on their own.

Writes Mr. Skelton, “So far, however, Steinberg’s tosses have had the effect of gentle lobs. Republicans aren’t backing off their no-tax positions. And the business lobby has just lined a pitch back up the middle, targeting Steinberg’s threat with a radio and mail ad campaign.”

“Under Steinberg’s bill, counties and school districts would have a huge menu of potential taxes to choose from — subject to local voter approval — in raising money for services, including K-12 education,” he reports.  “For the first time, they could impose local income taxes. They could hike the sales tax and the vehicle license fee. They could boost levies on liquor, tobacco and soft drinks. And they could enact their own tax on oil production. For starters.”

Here is the kicker for the anti-tax people in the readership, as Mr. Skelton reports, “This isn’t just a Steinberg pipe dream. His bill could be passed on a simple majority vote with no Republican support.”

And it is not the worst idea according to Mr. Skelton.  It would be basically like de-federalizing the state, with local control.  

Writes Mr. Skelton, “Regions of the state that abhor taxes could reject them and live with the public services they can afford. Areas that put a premium on education, public safety and healthcare for the poor could raise the money needed for those services.”

He continues, “State government could lighten its load while loosening its control over local communities.”

Senator Steinberg said: “If the opponents of my bill would show the same level of intensity, speed and determination toward helping reach a budget agreement, we’d have a balanced budget deal in no time.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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10 thoughts on “May Revise: Future Cuts Will Disproportionately Impact Education, Children, and Seniors”

  1. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]While it is true that everyone is hurting, it seems that those most impacted by cuts are the most vulnerable in society, students in public education, impoverished children and the elderly.

    In the meantime, the state is still crippled under a system that does not allow the majority to govern the state.

    In frustration, as George Skelton reports, “Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) is hurling a few brushback pitches at Republicans and business interests, trying to get them thinking about the consequences of not extending the state tax increases that were passed two years ago.”[/quote]

    Yes, this Democratic Governor is hitting the poorest and least able to defend themselves among us – low income children and the disabled. Yet brand new state of the art state courthouses, and a huge unwanted court computer system, is being foisted upon counties that don’t even want it – that together could save nearly $7 billion dollars of the state’s budget deficit. And the Democrats want to blame Republicans, bc Republicans don’t want to raise taxes until they see some honest efforts at reforming the pure graft that is going on in our state budget? LOL And I have no doubt the new courthouses and court computer system is only the tip of the graft iceberg…

  2. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Senator Steinberg said: “If the opponents of my bill would show the same level of intensity, speed and determination toward helping reach a budget agreement, we’d have a balanced budget deal in no time.”[/quote]

    This is the same Senator Steinberg who stripped Lois Wolk of her committee assignments. Why? Bc Lois took a principled stand against a bill that would have prevented cities from renegotiating bloated local city contracts (e.g. firefighters) when a city was forced to declare bankruptcy. What a hypocrite to threaten local control of the taxation process, when he tried to strip away local control a few short months ago…

  3. Frankly

    Rich Rifkin: Great article in the Enterprise on the new Woodland Polytechnic Academy.

    [url]http://www.davisenterprise.com/opinion/opinion-columns/woodland-poly-fills-an-educational-void/[/url]

    This is an example of what I think we need to seem much more of.

    The only thing I disagreed with is your point that No Child Left Behind is the culprit for causing more dropouts and general student disengagement. The fact is that dropout rates had been on the rise well before NCLB… and public schools have been narrowing the curriculum and “good student” template for the last 20-30 years.

    In 1974-78, I took: woodshop, metal shop, agriculture tech, and ground school for getting my pilot’s license… all of these classes were offered by Dixon High school. Most of these class offering were cut before NCLB because of budget concerns. At the same time, the outcomes for reading, writing, arithmetic and science were declining throughout the state. NCLB was to address this second problem, but not the loss of all of the polytechnic options.

    Support for school choice is growing throughout the nation. 10-20 years from now, the California education system will thankfully not look the same and people like me might agree to tax myself more to pay for the changes.

    [url]http://www.edchoice.org/Newsroom/News/Indiana-Gov–Mitch-Daniels-Signs-Historic-Voucher-Bill-into-Law.aspx[/url]

  4. wdf1

    JB: [i]The fact is that dropout rates had been on the rise well before NCLB…[/i]

    Dropout rates are a tricky to measure. How do you measure dropout rate? and what is a meaningful measure of dropout rate?

    By these statistics, your assertion is incorrect:

    [url]http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=16[/url]

    [i]In 1974-78, I took: woodshop, metal shop, agriculture tech, and ground school for getting my pilot’s license… all of these classes were offered by Dixon High school. Most of these class offering were cut before NCLB because of budget concerns. At the same time, the outcomes for reading, writing, arithmetic and science were declining throughout the state. NCLB was to address this second problem, but not the loss of all of the polytechnic options.[/i]

    I would say that the reason for the outcomes decline in reading, writing, science, etc. is related to cutting things like the courses you list. Woodshop, metal shop, ag tech, ground school offer relevance for the “core class” material being tested.

  5. Observer

    Two thoughts:
    1. I’d like to see more information on how CalWorks spends its funds. Years ago, we had a similar program of work/school to maintain grants, and it was scrapped;the benefits achieved paled in comparison with the costs. I suspect the same is true for CalWorks. How much is spent feeding poor kids, and how much is spent on administrators, counselors, secretaries, etc. I don’t KNOW that there is a lot of padding in the program, but I’d like to see evidence that there isn’t.
    2. Rifkin’s article was interesting, but the days when you could get a decent job without being able to read and write at a high-school level are long gone. The English, math, and science classes he bemoans are not “college prep” classes–they are “life” prep.

  6. wdf1

    Warren Buffet & Bill Gates On Why U.S. Taxes Are Too Low For The Wealthy

    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVOwaMWewGY&feature=youtu.be[/url]

  7. Frankly

    [i]” the days when you could get a decent job without being able to read and write at a high-school level are long gone”[/i]

    Being able to read and write, and being forced to take two years of algebra and two years of a foreigh language seem a bit different argument.

    However, don’t tell my plumber any of this. He didn’t attend college but lives in a bigger house and drives a nicer car than I have.

    Also, as wages rise in China and other low-wage emerging economies, manufacturing jobs will increase again in this country. If fact, it is already happening and manufacturors are complaining about the lack of qualified medium-skilled workers… just the type that would be cranked out by this new Woodland school.

  8. Frankly

    Warren Buffet – for being such a smart investor is surprisingly ignorant of many things related to taxation. For example, he made a point that he could borrow against his BH stock and not pay any income tax, but then failed to follow up with what the cost of his death tax would be.

    Both Gates and Buffet also failed to point out that the wealthy in this country – the top 10% of income earners – contribute 68% of all income tax revenue. In the 1960s went the top fed income tax rate was 90%, the top 10% paid about half this percentage.

    So, by reducing the tax rates on high earners, the nation has created more wealthy and this has doubled the amount of total income the government gets relative to everywhere else it gets revenue from.

    What happens with the top tax rates are raised? Well the middle class will have to make up the difference paying higher taxes and also paying more for the products and services from the prices raised by the wealthy business owners… so that they can pay their higher tax bill.

    Consider too that Gates and Buffet are multi-billionaires constantly working on their legacy to make the world a better place. They can afford to throw other successful people under the bus… especially considering the lib media response from them telling ya’ll what they really think.

  9. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Consider too that Gates and Buffet are multi-billionaires constantly working on their legacy to make the world a better place. They can afford to throw other successful people under the bus… especially considering the lib media response from them telling ya’ll what they really think.[/quote]

    I couldn’t have said it better. Not only that, Gates got where he is today by usurping everyone else’s ideas, and Buffet is no saint, as evidenced by the latest scandal within his own company. And these two should be handing out advice on tax policy? The two never knew a tax they didn’t try and avoid…

  10. wdf1

    This American Life: How To Create a Job

    [url]http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/435/how-to-create-a-job[/url]

    Discusses interesting aspects to job creation.

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